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“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit.” —Acts 2:4

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Nancy Benson-Nicol

Nancy Benson-Nicol, author of Dispatches to God's Household, interpreted the general epistles with a metaphor about a mother and child. Photo by Leep Zelones.

Snapshots of God's love

By Carol Gruber

At the Thursday morning plenary, Nancy Benson-Nicol, the author of the 2012–2013 Horizons Bible study,  Dispatches to God’s Household: The General Epistles, gave us a helpful metaphor. She likened the general epistles (1 and 2 Peter, 1–3 John and Jude) in the New Testament to a mother taking pictures of her son, Craig.

During her son’s formative years, the mother took snapshots of the two of them with one of her arms always draped around Craig’s shoulder. She held the camera with her other hand and “click,” recorded another milestone in his life. In some photos his face beamed or was close to tears, in others his face was serene.

The picture taking was a life-long project. One night, when Craig couldn’t sleep, he came to the kitchen for a glass of warm milk. There he saw his mother working on a book of photos. When he asked to see the book, she put it away quickly saying, “This is for me to know and for you to find out.” At the time of his high school graduation, Craig faced a time of deep disappointment because he wasn’t accepted into college. Craig’s mother gave him the scrapbook she had been working on all these years. In the box with the scrapbook he also found a note that read:

“My Dearest Craig,

May these images remind you, should you ever be tempted to forget, that no matter what changes life brings you—good things, bad things, in-between things—that my love is always present with you, and I will always stand by you, come what may. In these pictures, I hope you always see in yourself what I see and cherish in you.

With all my heart,


That’s when Craig knew, deep down, that things would be all right, somehow.”

Nancy explained that the Epistles, like Craig’s snapshots, are snapshots with words that deepen our understanding of God’s message, telling and showing us that God is always with us. For example, one of the snapshots in 1 Peter, tells us that although we have not seen Christ we love him; and even though we do not see him now, we believe in him and rejoice with indescribable and glorious joy. A snapshot from 1 John encourages us to remain steadfast in truth and action with the words “See what love the father has given us that we should be called the children of God, and so we are.” A snapshot in 2 John is of the elect lady (possibly the nation as a whole) and her children. The writer of 2 John cautions us against leaving the doors of our homes (ourselves) open to the ones who would deceive us and lead us away from Christ.

In summary, Nancy invited us to let her drape her own encouraging arm around our shoulders as we explore Dispatches to God’s Household: The General Epistles and see what love God has for us.

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